2012 Anchorage Weed Smackdown to ‘takedown’ alien invaders
(Anchorage, AK) June 12, 2012. To combat and help contain the spread of invasive plant invaders concerned citizens plus municipal, state, and federal biologists are organizing the second annual Anchorage Weed Smackdown – a fun, friendly competition to ‘takedown’ invasive weeds. The Anchorage Weed Smackdown will take place Saturday June 16th from 10am to 1pm at Valley of the Moon Park (17th Ave at E St.).
Last summer’s Anchorage Weed Smackdown was a tremendous success. 135 volunteers of all ages enjoyed working outside while removing 6,500 invasive trees from about seven acres of Valley of the Moon Park. 2012 Smackdown participants will easily recognize where we left off last year and begin working from that point.
Valley of the Moon Park and the adjacent Chester Creek Trail are an Anchorage family favorite. These parklands offer a cautionary example of how the introduced European Bird Cherry tree, also known as Mayday, has escaped cultivation and is now taking over the native forest. In recent years, several moose have died in Anchorage from cyanide poisoning after eating from the European bird cherry tree. Volunteers at the Weed Smackdown will help remove these invasive trees, learn more about Alaska’s alien plant invaders, and be rewarded with free lunch, a free t-shirt, and great prizes donated by local businesses (including Alaska Railroad tickets, cruises with Major Marine Tours and raft trips from Alaska Wildland Adventures and Denali Outdoor Center). Anchorage participants will also be competing against Weed Smackdowns in Fairbanks, Seward, and Palmer.
Alaska is experiencing an invasion of alien plant invaders, who are just beginning to wreak havoc in Alaska’s wild and unique environments. The frontlines of this invasion are Alaska’s cities and transportation corridors. Several aggressive plant invaders are beginning to move from Anchorage’s developed landscapes into natural areas such as Chester and Campbell Creeks, Far North Bicentennial Park, and Chugach State Park. Invasive weeds are non-native plants whose introduction and spread can cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. For example, a non-native plant might spread aggressively (invade) and completely overgrow surrounding native plants. Some invasive plants can harm Alaska’s fish and wildlife, while others can harm humans. European bird cherry can poison moose; reed canarygrass and purple loosestrife can damage fish and bird habitats; Canada thistle and giant hogweed have spiny leaves or stems and can give people an itchy or even painful rash.
The Anchorage Weed Smackdown is organized by Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation, Anchorage Park Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Citizens Against Noxious Weeds Invading the North (Alaska CANWIN), Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Anchorage Waterways Council, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, UAA Alaska Natural Heritage Program, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Alaska Center for the Environment, and the Anchorage Cooperative Weed Management Area.